The effects of a bullbar on your vehicle safety rating

The effects of a bullbar on your vehicle safety rating

Posted by Camco Industries on Sep 18, 2019 12:40:24 PM
Camco Industries


Traditionally, most off road vehicles are fitted with steel wrap-around protection of some description, that can weigh upwards of 110kgs. Whilst this provides ample protection for the front of the vehicle, it can have a detrimental effect on pedestrian safety, the front axle weight, and vehicle handling.

Topics: Innovation, Vehicle Compliance

Here we look at different bullbar types and the effects they can have on your vehicle.

SmartBars are a relatively new entrant to the market. These bullbars are constructed from plastic with a steel subframe, only weighing around 30-40kgs - depending on the vehicle make and model. Add a winch to the setup, and it still only weighs around 60-70kgs.
The Smartbar, although constructed from plastic, has superior spring-back after an impact compared to a steel bullbar. 

Another option to decrease the weight of the bullbar is to use an aluminium bullbar option. These are up to 30% lighter than steel bullbars, and are available in a polished finish, or they can be powdercoated so they look just like their steel counterparts.

What effect do bullbars have on pedestrian safety?

As can be imagined, a traditional steel bullbar is very dangerous in the unfortunate situation where a pedestrian is impacted.

In New Zealand, there are no current requirements for a class NA vehicle, such as a ute, to meet any formal impact or pedestrian impact standards.

On the other hand, bullbars in Europe are required to meet the requirements set out in the European Regulation for Pedestrian Safety. 

Smartbar StealthBar

The StealthBar for a Ford Ranger








The SpartanBar for a Ford Ranger

The Smartbar StealthBar is currently the only bullbar on the market that meets the EU pedestrian impact standards. It has undergone stringent independent testing to gain this certification. THe Stealthbar also meets Australian Standard AS4876.1-2002 including 3.2 road user protection. Although the ANCAP organisation no longer tests non-OEM bars, the Smartbar company has done enough testing over the years to confidently conclude that the Smartbar will not have a detrimental affect on pedestrian safety.

A study conducted by the Centre of Automotive Safety Research in 2006 compares plastic and steel bullbars with striking results! As shown below, a vehicle fitted with a Smartbar gives the pedestrian a higher chance of survival than even the standard vehicle front assembly. This is due to the flexible nature of plastic.

smartbar survivability

It is recommended to fit a snorkel when a bullbar is fitted, as the fitment of bullbars can remove panels that affect the wading depth of the vehicle.

The images below show the post impact damage with the 3 different bullbar options - steel, aluminium and the plastic SmartBar.




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